RALEIGH, N.C. –- In the frantic closing seconds of overtime Tuesday night, Flyers goalie Brian Elliott made a spectacular save on Jordan Staal’s point-blank shot, but Jeff Skinner appeared to have an open net as he gathered the rebound on his backhand.
Enter left winger Claude Giroux, who made a sliding stop that not only kept the game tied at 1-1, but sent the winning play in motion down the other end.
Jordan Weal sent a shot from the high slot through the legs of goalie Cam Ward with 3.1 seconds left in overtime, giving the Flyers a dramatic 2-1 victory at PNC Arena and ending a four-game losing streak.
It was the first overtime goal of Weal’s career, and Giroux’s save helped make it possible.
“That was kind of a desperate play,” Giroux said after the Flyers inched back into a playoff spot — as the first wild-card team — in the Eastern Conference.
Elliott made the initial save but the puck flipped into the air and Giroux knocked it away with his stick. The puck went to Skinner, and Giroux then made his sliding stop.
“The guys were just laying out, doing whatever they had to do to get the win,” defenseman Andrew MacDonald said.
“They had a two-on-one and Moose did a good job of touching it with his stick, and I was able to touch it,” Giroux said, referring to Elliott by his nickname. “It was a fun overtime. Big goal by Wealer. When he gets open ice, he’s a dangerous player.”
Weal said his “jaw dropped” on Elliott’s save.
He ended the game with his seventh goal of the season.
“That’s three-on-three,” he said of the overtime. “If you can weather the storm down one end, you can get a fastbreak and get a chance down the other.”
Latest Overtime Winners/Flyers history
|Scott Hartnell||0.9 seconds||vs. Penguins||March 18, 2012|
|Mike Richards||3.0 seconds||at Bruins||Dec. 11, 2010|
|Jordan Weal||3.1 seconds||at Hurricanes||Feb. 6, 2018|
Before the Flyers arrived in Raleigh, Carolina coach Bill Peters sharply criticized his team’s listless play in the previous two games.
The wake-up call worked. Sort of.
Carolina gave a more inspired effort than in recent games, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Flyers from eking out a key victory.
Veteran goalie Cam Ward, who was 6-1-2 in his previous nine games against the Flyers, was flawless in the second period until Wayne Simmonds tied the score at 1-1 with 3 minutes, 17 seconds left in the stanza.
After a wild scramble, Simmonds, playing in the 500th game of his Flyers career, scored on a rebound for his 18th goal and seventh in the last 16 games.
Jake Voracek had the primary assist, his league-leading 52nd helper this season.
“I thought we did a great job of getting in on the forecheck,” said Simmonds after scoring his 181st goal in his Flyers career. “We kind of followed up from what the line before us had done on the break-in. We got pucks to the net and I was lucky I found one at my feet and was able to put it in.”
Earlier in the second period, Val Filppula, Travis Konecny, and Jori Lehtera were stopped by Ward on close attempts. On Filppula’s chance, Konecny made a slick feed to set up what looked like a power-play goal before Ward made a kick save with 11:40 to go in the second.
The Flyers had six minutes of penalties in the opening period, preventing them from getting into a rhythm.
A four-minute high-sticking penalty on rookie Nolan Patrick led to the only first-period goal as Elias Lindholm scored on his own rebound. Lindholm got inside position on rookie defenseman Robert Hagg, who appeared exhausted from a long shift.
Elliott, who missed the previous four games because of a lower-body injury, looked sharp and made nine first-period stops, including an earlier point-blank attempt by Lindholm. All told, he stopped 27 of 28 shots, none bigger than the one on Staal in the closing seconds.
“I got it with the tip of my stick,” said Elliott, who was forced to make just two saves in the third period — and six in the Carolina-dominated overtime.
The Flyers blocked a season-high 28 shots, including six by Shayne Gostisbehere and five by Radko Gudas.
The Hurricanes, whose coach made two minor lineup changes to try to spark his team, and the Flyers are among five teams battling for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots. Just four points separate those five teams.
It was the first of four games between the Flyers and Hurricanes this season, and it will be difficult for the remaining matchups to provide as much drama as Tuesday.